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Jobs Report: IT Services Had Banner Decade, Security and Devs To Lead Next Decade

Current U.S. unemployment rates are at record highs due to the COVID-19 crisis, but the technology sector remains poised for significant job growth in the coming decade.

This month's "Cyberstates 2020 Report" from the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) paints an overall positive picture of the U.S. technology industry, projecting growth to nearly 9 million jobs over the next eight years.

CompTIA uses its own self-defined "Net Tech Employment" designation to describe job positions. This designation is perhaps a little more bulked up over what the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides. For instance, also included in the Net Tech Employment designation are "business professionals employed by technology companies," which might include persons working in "sales, marketing, finance, HR, operations and management." There's also a self-employed designation included in Net Tech Employment, but the report included "only dedicated, full-time self-employed technology workers" in its tally.

Based on those criteria, CompTIA's report counted 12.1 million workers in the Net Tech Employment designation in 2019. Of that total, 67 percent were considered to be engaged in technology occupations. The 2019 Net Tech Employment count represents 307,000 more jobs over 2018's count, representing a 2.6 percent year-over-year growth rate.

Past 10-Year Tech Jobs Trends
About 2.3 million Net Tech Employment jobs have been added since 2010, according to the report. The only year that was associated with negative tech job growth over that 10-year span was the year 2010, "mirroring the job losses experienced nationwide on the heels of the Great Recession," the report indicated.

The jobs that grew the most over the 10-year period from 2010 to 2019 included:

  • Software developers, applications (+504,000)
  • IT support specialists (+265,000)
  • Emerging tech, IT project management, data and other (+244,000)
  • CIOs and IT managers (+137,000)
  • Systems engineers/analysts (+101,000)

When technology occupations were combined with supporting business occupations, the report found that most (65 percent) of the job growth since 2010 came in the "IT services and custom software services category." After that, the "packaged software category (aka off-the-shelf or SaaS)" category ranked second in overall employment.

Tech manufacturing in general was a loss leader, with 52,000-plus fewer jobs over the 10-year period.

Future 10-Year Tech Jobs Trends
The CompTIA report -- citing U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates, plus estimates from the Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) organization -- predicted that there will be more than 8.8 million tech jobs available by 2028.

That figure is lower than CompTIA's 12.1 million Net Tech Employment jobs in 2019. The report included an explanatory note, though, stating that the 8.8 million tech job estimate "covers occupations only and represents a subset of the net tech employment figure presented previously."

The report can sometimes be confusing when it switches between using these various ways of counting tech jobs. In its defense, though, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has trouble counting, too, especially as tech job roles rapidly change.

Over a 10-year period (from 2018 to 2028), the tech jobs number is expected to grow by 15 percent, which is better than the projected overall U.S. employment job growth rate of 10.5 percent, per the report.

Here are the tech jobs expected to show the most growth over the next 10 years, per the Cyberstates report:

  • Cybersecurity analysts: +37%
  • Software developers, applications: +37%
  • Data and computer scientists: +31%
  • Emerging tech, IT proj. mgt., data, and other: +30%
  • Web developers: +22%
  • CIOs, CTOs, and IT managers: +23%
  • IT support specialists: +18%

Year-over-Year Tech Job Growth
The report also described percentage changes in the amount of jobs, year over year, comparing 2018 data with data from 2019 (page 11). In this section, the report apparently veers away from showing job breakouts in terms of its Net Tech Employment designation. It instead apparently relied on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

The report showed year-over-year job breakouts in terms of a so-called "U.S. Tech Occupation Employment" designation, based on "estimated 2019" data that was compared with 2018 data. Here are its year-over-year findings in that respect:

  • Software and Web developers 1,593,546 (+4.3%)
  • Systems and Cybersecurity Analysts 740,286 (+2.6%)
  • Network Architects, Admins, and Support 705,484 (0%)
  • IT Support Specialists 664,577 (+3.0%)

Wages and Location
The median wage across all tech job categories was $84,284, based on 2018 data, the last available info from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The tech job salary range is about $51,000 (10th percentile) to about $138,000 (90th percentile), but wages typically differ greatly based on city and state locations.

"Top tier wages in locations such as San Jose or New York City may run into hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in annual compensation," the report indicated.

The top three states with the most tech jobs in 2019 -- California, Texas and New York -- also topped the list in terms of the percentage of job gains from 2018.

States with the lowest number of tech workers were "Wyoming, Mississippi, Louisiana, West Virginia, and Arkansas."

The report also includes an extensive breakdown of tech employment per various U.S. cities. The top cities in terms of Net Tech Employment numbers in 2019 included New York City, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

CompTIA describes itself as a "trade association for the global IT industry." Its "Cyberstates" reports get published annually, showing data on tech jobs, salaries and U.S. regional data. The reports draw their data largely from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but they also use other sources, which are described, in part, under the "Methodology" segment here.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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